Coffee Drinkers on Fair Trade
Colleen Crosby runs a specialty coffee shop that’s been
a fixture in Santa Cruz, California since 1978. She became a Fair Trade
retailer in 2000.
Crosby learned about the crisis in coffee prices at the Specialty Coffee
Association of America Conference that year. She didn't stop at simply
stocking the right beans, however. Crosby packed her bags to visit Nicaragua,
where some of her coffee is grown. The trip was overwhelming.
the five-hour drive into Nicaragua from Costa Rica, she says “I
saw no relief from extreme poverty... I just sat there waiting and waiting
and waiting for a break in the poverty.”
She started to purchase Fair Trade beans for her own business, and in
the past year she’s found herself taking on an unexpected role as
something of an international Fair Trade spokeswoman, including testifying
before Congress. She says one of the challenges she faced transitioning
to all Fair Trade coffee at her shop was educating consumers. “The
news media doesn’t give us the information we need to make a good
choice,” she says, echoing the frustration of many working to secure
fair pay for farmers.
Over the past two years, Crosby has visited coffee farms in Colombia and
Ethiopia as well as Central America. “We were frequently asked ‘Why
don’t Americans care?’ I responded that Americans absolutely
care. They have a big heart [but] our news media doesn’t give them
Part of Oxfam’s coffee program is to focus attention on these issues.
Among those efforts, Oxfam is working with groups on college campuses
that are calling for fair trade coffee. Liam Brody, the coffee program
coordinator for Oxfam America, attributes Sara Lee’s decision to
offer a fair trade coffee line at least in part to efforts by students
at UCLA and Villanova colleges.
— Robin Mejía
© 2003 El Andar Magazine